Movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger has won the race to become governor of California, America's richest and most populous state.
He scored an easy victory over Gray Davis, the current governor, blamed by many for the state's financial woes.
Other, more established politicians made little headway in the race against the Hollywood star.
Can Mr Schwarzenegger be an effective governor? Is his lack of political experience an asset or a drawback? Will the allegations of sexual misconduct return to haunt him?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
Unlike a career minded politician, Arnold has nothing to prove with personal agendas and unlike most politicians he is extremely popular amongst the American people. He started out with nothing and has been hugely successful in his life. He will do very well in this role. Maybe we will see him heading for the Whitehouse in years to come. Good luck to him and his team.
Mike Barnetson, UK
It must be pointed out that Mr. Schwarzenegger graduated for Economy and Finances and did well in running a company, becoming quite wealthy at the age of 22. His lack of experience might be his current flaw, but if he can become a good leadership, his government might do well. Also, if he is not deep into politics, that could mean he was not corrupted by it. It is utterly pathetic that allegations of sexual misconduct from decades ago should actually be considered; his old flirts will not make him a better or worse leader. Basically, if he can be a reasonable man and show some leadership, his time as governor might not be so bad. All Californians can do is wait and check carefully his decisions.
I was disappointed that Arnie won simply because I was waiting for him to say 'I'll be back'.
Lee Newham, UK
People have underestimated Arnie all his life, only to see him make it to the top every time. A look behind the Glitz and Glamour of Hollywood reveals a man who is an excellent businessman with a sure grasp of how to run things. While he's new to the governor's seat, he will be no stranger to the political machinations that are evident in the making of every film and TV show that comes out of Hollywood. Arnie has always known his strengths and weaknesses, and I would be surprised if he fails in his latest role, as he'll appoint a staff that will help cover the areas he's not comfortable dealing with. It's a mistake to believe that, because a person hasn't done something, he can't do something. Arnie is likely to prove the doubters to be wrong.
Robin G Pierce, United Kingdom
The last time California elected an actor to the governor's office, he unlocked the gates of the mental hospitals. Now the inmates still beg and die on the streets. Our new governor will need a strong team of handlers because he doesn't have a clue to the laws he will have to operate with. If you want to have some fun, keep count of his back-pedalling on his campaign promises.
John Spreitz, Calif., USA
Arnie was as qualified as anyone else on the ballot. What qualification did Davis or Bustamente have - their track record? And if you're worried about a "show biz" personality running the state, what about the "clowns" who have run it into the ground?
I suspect that when the hangover sets in, Californians will ask themselves why they hired a movie star to run their state, rather than a politician.
He may not be 'qualified' in some minds to run the state but give the man a chance. Davis was 'qualified' and look at how poorly he did.
Adrian, New Zealand
This person came from humble conditions, he showed from the beginning of his career that he is a fighter and he could achieve everything he wanted by putting in effort and consistency. I hope he does a good job now as governor. It will be a difficult task but time will tell.
Of course Arnie won't be able to govern California but at least for obese Californians, it might mean a gym on every corner and compulsory work outs.
The great news for Europeans is that he's off our cinema screens for a couple of years. If only they'd put Keanu in the Whitehouse.
Charles Monroe, Ireland
I think it is wonderful that the people of California could recall their governor. Grey Davis, like many other politicians throughout the world was the product of an entrenched party machine and his only concerns where to maintain party ideological purity and special interest. The common people were not on the agenda with him. Unlike Davis and his two other opponents, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not encumbered with those problems. The people of California saw this and elected him. I think he will do well, but whatever happens, voters throughout the world should take note.
John Lee, USA
This scenario is depressing and embarrassing for me as an American, and native Californian. I wonder if the electorate suffered temporary amnesia, and forgot that their state is in a sense a nation and one of the largest economies in the world. As such, California requires a leader that can spell out the specifics of his policies, and not rely on tired movie references.
Scott Andrew Johnson,
The one good thing about this whole recall is that people actually went out and voted.
And, for sure every California child will know who their governor is. However, I felt upset when I found out Arnie won. With the budget problems California has, putting a macho actor with no experience in leadership as head of a government is just plain reckless. I love California, and wish I still lived there, but the way Californians have voted just doesn't make any sense.
What a joke! Further validation that knowledge, talent and ability have no place in today's cheap, mass-produced plastic world. You want to be a musician? Doesn't matter if you can't even read music, so long as you look good. Want to be governor? Doesn't matter if you have no qualifications to be one, so long as you can put on a good show and hire a few good spin doctors. Put down your schoolbooks kids, in fact, don't bother going to school at all, it won't help you one bit in today's world. Instead, let's all send the kids off to Pop Idol, where they can study how to smile for the cameras, and all the things they need to be the next governor.
This country (the USA) was built by men like Arnold who came from humble beginnings and rose to the challenge of making a difference because they believed in themselves and that they could make a difference. Give the man a chance to prove what he can do and then judge him by that and stop being such snobs.
Los Angeles, CA
This is yet another example of the vast right wing republican machine that has really become powerful in the past five years in America. Republicans attempted to impeach Bill Clinton and nearly succeeded. They stole the Florida election and eventually the presidency because of a simple Republican majority in the Supreme Court. They have horrific redistricting plans in Texas that will send many more Republican representatives from that state to congress and basically destroy the democrats in that state. With this recall, they now control the four most powerful states in America, New York, Florida, Texas, and now California. They control both houses of congress and the presidency. Republicans are becoming a mighty machine that Americans and even the world have to deal with.
I don't loathe Schwarzenegger like I do George W. Bush. Arnold is a progressive moderate in a Republican's cloak - which is the same thing as a moderate Democrat in my book. Thankfully, he is not 'owned' by the religious right. He has an impossible task ahead of him. We Californians, like most others in the world dream that we can have extensive government services and programs but have our taxes lowered at the same time. It cannot be done. Give him alms, the voters will despise him soon enough unless we have another economic boom.
Christopher McMahon, San Francisco, California, USA
I am glad Arnie has won. Just look at what the Americans have done in the Middle East and to most of the world. Maybe California being run by a European will help gain some world perspective and move away from its la la land image.
Frightening, this man is an action hero, with a blatant disrespect for women, what assets could he possibly have to productively govern? It seems even more terrifying that someone of this description and of this behaviour could even be elected. Why?
I am deeply disturbed by Americans lack of understanding of what "civic responsibility" means? It's exciting that people were excited to vote, but why did they not seriously consider the social impact of this decision. "Arnie" has zero experience in government, and a sketchy civic and personal past.
Clare Robbins, Los Angeles, CA
I have nothing against Mr. Schwarzenegger. He saw an opportunity and took it. My disgust is with the electorate. The voters voted for a actor without experience. It became obvious that Arnold's ignorance of government business caused him to opt out of debates with other candidates. California voters reacted as if they were deciding an Academy Award presentation rather than the serious business of government.
The state of politics in this country is laughable, what is the point of a free democracy if we elect officials who will merely look good for the camera rather than push our country forward. Minnesota did it two elections ago and ended up despising its choice, now California? I thought that we were supposed to learn from our past, not repeat it over and over.
Brendan Frost, Minnesota, USA
This is what comes from a failing education system. If it's a product name you know, than it must be good. No thinking required, so those who can't think end up picking. If there was someplace else to go, I would leave.
This proves yet again that American politics are not about ability or good programmes. But about who gets the most money and support from either republicans or democrats behind their name. Let's face it, Bush nor Arnie have any real power they are the puppets with only one purpose and that is to deflect attention from what really should be done. I hope next years elections will be more about ability and less about personalities.
Ironically, this free-for-all recall election is the only way Arnold could have become governor of California. He is much too liberal to have been nominated in a Republican primary, and too closely associated with the Republicans to be nominated by the Democrats.
Whether he will be able to lead remains to be seen - the people of California have spoken, but I'm sure that the "recall Schwarzenegger" petition drive has already begun!
South Carolina, USA
As a native Californian, I'm offended by both sides in this circus. The increasing political polarisation of California (traditionally trend-setter for the rest of the USA) bodes ill for the future.
Perhaps we in Britain shouldn't gloat too much over the farcical nature of this election - after all, not too long ago the people of Hartlepool saw fit to elect a monkey mayor.
Jeremy Olver, UK
We have a warrior for Secretary of state, now the Terminator for Governor.
Our politics have lost touch with reality. Showmanship wins the day, but ultimately will lose the game as it is, after all, just a show.
It is getting increasingly embarrassing explaining American politics to my foreign friends. What are your credentials? You have a famous or powerful daddy; you are a famous TV or movie star; you have a boatload of money and you are in? Given the critical problems America faces I find it amazing people would be stupid enough to elect these neophytes who don't even discuss policy and issues in their campaigns.
James MacTavish, USA
This is wonderful. For the second time in our history, the people have risen up to throw a semi-socialist administration out of a governorship. Arnold is not the best choice in my opinion but he is light-years ahead of Gray Davis and the rest of the liberal-left establishment that has ruled that hapless state for too long.
Garry Cobb, USA
Who is next? JLo for governor of New York?
San Diego, California
George Bush as President and an actor with no experience now running the world's fifth largest economy? Disappointing indeed!
San Francisco, California, USA
Hopefully the Democrats will learn a lesson - when revenues are up 21% you can't increase spending by 41%. In tough times you can't buy votes. Spending cuts are tough but they have to be made.
I think my fellow Californians have lost their marbles. Maybe terrorists have flooded our waters with some kind of drug that has made a great many of us really really stupid. How do we confront the world with dignity when we've elected a woman-groping clown to the office of governor? Where do I sign the recall initiative to take Arnold out of office?
A word to Mark S, I suggest you take a good look at the Bush administration's budget for Iraq before making comments about how Democrats spend taxpayers' money.
Idyllwild, California, USA
Now the USA has two clowns in office on both coasts! One is harmless and the other isn't! Arnold should have run as a Democrat, since his sexual habits reflect their morals, but he has the ideology of a Republican. God help the free world!
The ONLY reason Arnold is being attacked is because he's not a left wing radical, and will be a nice change of pace for the citizens of California.
Christopher Skeet, USA
Indeed Mr Schwarzenegger wins and will prove that you don't need to be a politician in order to become a good leader, governor, or even president. However, I would not like to be in Arnie's shoes considering current California economic situation. His advantage is that as a random citizen he does not have to follow any directions of political parties. He can and will follow his heart, conscience and common sense. Go Arnie!!!
Recall all US politicians. Elect Hollywood!